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Novel Blood Biomarker Predicting Brain Damage and Long-term Dysfunction after Concussion


Rapid diagnostic and prognostic marker predicting risk of

brain damage and lasting dysfunction after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI or concussion)



Robert Siman, PhD



Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), alternatively referred to as concussion, is the most common neurological injury, affecting over 1.5 million children and adults each year in the U.S. alone, as well as hundreds of thousands of military personnel. mTBI is typically undetectable with computed tomography (CT), yet can elicit long-term and clinically significant brain dysfunction in 15–30% of cases. Currently, there are neither a proven therapy for mitigating brain damage and improving long-term function, nor a test for identifying the small subset of concussion sufferers at risk of brain damage and in need of treatment.  Consequently, new prognostic methods for mTBI are needed to identify at risk cases, especially at an early and potentially treatable stage.  



Dr. Siman’s laboratory discovered that the blood level of the neurodegeneration biomarker calpain-cleaved αII-spectrin N-terminal fragment (SNTF) identifies mTBI patients that are likely to have both white matter structural damage and persistent brain dysfunction. In concussion patients treated in the Emergency Room,  increased plasma SNTF on the day of injury correlatesd significantly with neuroimaging abnormalities and with cognitive impairment that persistsed for at least 3 months. In ice hockey players evaluated after an in-game concussion or concussion-free training, serum SNTF exhibitsed diagnostic accuracy for concussion, and within hours identifiesd those cases that would go on to exhibit prolonged post-concussion symptoms requiring a delay in their return to play.  Brain microscopic studies confirmed that SNTF is a biologically plausible blood marker for concussion, accumulating preferentially in damaged axons after TBI.



• Serum diagnostic and prognostic marker tested in peer reviewed human studies

•Currently the only blood marker rapidly predicting brain white matter damage and long-term dysfunction after concussion

•Biologically plausible: marker accumulates in white matter damaged by concussion

•Immunoassay uses a novel neoepitope-specific antibody with electrochemiluminescence detection chemistry that is the current method of choice in the biofluid diagnostics industry



Stage of Development

Two completed, published clinical studies and an on-going study in military personal exposed to blast

Ongoing development of commercial blood test kit


Intellectual Property

US granted patent 9,952,214

EU granted patent EP2971285B1

US application 14/774,585

CA application 2,939,692

EU application 18171257.1



Reference Media

Siman et al., Front. Neurol 4: 190, 2013.

Siman et al. J. Neurotrauma  32:1294, 2015.

Scientific American “Blood Test Forecasts Concussion Severity

Johnson et al., Acta Neuropathologica


Additional Media Coverage

A Better Way to Treat Concussions? theatlantic.com

New blood test could indicate long-term severity of concussions — NewsWorks newsworks.org

Penn Scientists Identify Possible Key to Gauging Extent of Concussion newsworks.org

Check Up: Protein may help assess concussions inquirer.com

Penn team develops blood test to signal long-term damage from concussion newsworks.org

Could a blood test detect concussion with lasting disability? latimes.com


Desired partnerships

• License



Docket #  Z6565


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Linara Axanova
Associate Director, PSOM Licensing Group
University of Pennsylvania
Robert Siman